♦ The Inked Vibe Slimline, made by California Exotic Novelties (Cal Ex), is a “tattooed” hard plastic vibrator sold by Desire and Pleasure, the sex toy selling branch of UK sexual health charity The Family Planning Association (FPA). The FPA have a very long and respected history as a sex-related charity in this country, so I was very intrigued by their decision to launch Desire and Pleasure and honoured to work with them.
The Inked Vibe comes in a plastic box with a see-through front window, inside the vibrator rests in a clear plastic insert. The box contains some information on the size and material of the toy as well as its functions, but spends most of its time garishly burning my retinas. It’s pretty tacky-looking for a box with no 80s soft-porn women on. There doesn’t seem to be any information on what batteries the toy takes anywhere, but it turns out it’s C, which are powerful but a bit annoying to get hold of.
The batteries are inserted by twisting the end off the toy. Inside the vibrator is the battery compartment, which is cheaply lined with cardboard. Now, this is to muffle the sound of the batteries as the vibrations rattle them inside the case, but it still looks pretty poor-quality.
At first I wasn’t even sure if I was supposed to remove the cardboard or not as it’s not at any point made clear you should keep it. Poor-quality or not, do keep it as the toy is reportedly a lot noisier without it. As it is, the toy is not exactly discreet and may put some people off, but it couldn’t be heard through my bedroom door.
The Inked Vibe is made from ABS plastic and is a seamless design shaped like a classic bullet vibe but much bigger. It is basically a hard plastic tube that comes to a bullet-style point. At the end is the battery cap and the dial, which is used to operate the vibrator. The controls are very simple: twist the dial to turn it on and up the speed, twist it back to do the reverse. It is multi-speed with a gradual increase from low to high as you turn the dial.
The Inked Vibe’s dimensions are that it is 8″ long (with around 6.75″ of that insertable). It is 1.25″ in diameter at its widest, coming to a narrow but not too poky tip. Because it is made from ABS plastic, the Inked Vibe Slimline does feel bigger because of its firmness. It is not quite as “slimline” as it claims to be and I for one was certainly quite taken aback by its size on first sight, even though I’ve certainly had bigger. As I say, though, the inflexibility of the plastic makes it punch above its weight.
My Inked Vibe is black, but the toy also comes in white and pink. The shaft of the toy is emblazoned with an old-school tattoo design. The white comes in a different design (a snake and a skull), but the pastel pink shares the same design as the black: a cross, heart and anchor juxtaposed with a blank parchment-like ribbon.
This is quite clearly the main selling point of the toy because, let’s be honest, the Inked Vibe Slimline really is just a bog-standard, basic, classic vibrator style with a cool-looking tattoo on it. The cool-looking tattoo is cool, though. If you’re a fan of old-school tattoo flash, rockabilly, psychobilly, 50s chic and/or roller derby, like I am, you’ll likely love the look of the tattoo on this toy. The colours are bright and the art has attitude, especially on the black background. It looks pretty sweet.
I was somewhat worried about the design scratching off, even though it feels securely under a layer of coating. I couldn’t scratch with my nails, but it failed the scratch-with-a-pen test and it also chipped with a very light graze of my teeth. I was barely trying. So although I think the tattoo design is unlikely to come off in normal use, do be very careful if it goes near pointy or metal objects such as restraint buckles and also when washing it 1. In any case, if the design gets damaged, that area becomes easy to scratch with fingernails and you’ll likely want to replace this toy for hygiene reasons.
Speaking of washing this toy, the Inked Vibe is dubbed “waterproof” by its manufacturers. Lol, no. I closed the end cap (which comes with a rubber O-ring in an attempt to keep moisture out) as tightly as I could and placed it in my full bathroom sink. I turned it on for a little bit, in an attempt to simulate normal use, turned it back off, wiped the outside dry and opened the battery compartment. This is what I saw:
Honestly? A rubber O-ring and still that much water gets in the battery compartment? Enough to soak the cardboard right through down to 1.5cms 2 on a good half of its circumference? If there is water in your battery compartment, no matter how much or little, then your toy is NOT waterproof. I’d be very worried about this toy shorting or otherwise failing if you’d tried to use it in the bath, particularly if you used it in water regularly.
The Inked Vibe Slimline is a pretty new experience for me as I never actually had a classic-style plastic vibrator in my wanking-youth. The firmness and straight shape of the toy make for an interesting combination and not always a helpful one. I found that I couldn’t use the toy internally sitting on the edge of my chair as I sometimes do and could only really get comfortable flat on my back. This is because the toy has no give and really is straight as a ruler. Insertion is otherwise easy thanks to the smooth surface of the Inked Vibe and there really is no drag to speak of.
It feels big and I actually really liked thrusting with it, feeling it open me up on the inward thrust and letting my pussy narrow again as it withdraws. It’s a very pleasurable feeling and one made even more noticeable by the hard material. Despite the narrow girth numerically, size fans may get more out of this than they initially expect.
You can also use the Inked Vibe clitorally (though not anally due to the lack of flared base) and it works very well for that. The hardness of the shape is much more of a blessing than a curse here as it transmits the vibrations very well and allows for greater pressure if you so desire. You can even used the pointed end of the toy for more precision sensation. I’d say it’s definitely a dual-purpose toy that works just as well on the clit as it does internally.
As for vibrations, they start decently and only get better from there, working up to very powerful at the top speed. It’s definitely enough to satisfy me and it’s certainly what I’d call a pretty powerful vibrator. You’d hope so with silly C batteries. The vibrations aren’t exactly buzzy, but they’re not rumbly either. They’re more than surface-level, though, and seem to be a sort of halfway house between rumble and buzz. Helpfully, the hard plastic transmits them very well, both externally and internally.
Unhelpfully, I can’t show you a video of the Inked Vibe’s vibration as I normally would, because it’s crapped out on me. It worked very well and exactly as I’d hope for the first four or five uses, but now it isn’t working properly at all. And it’s not the batteries. Instead of turning on and slowly working up the vibration speeds, the Inked Vibe sits silently as I turn the dial until the very last millimetre and then comes on at full strength. As long as you hold it in place, because if you let go it turns off again. Thank God the highest setting works at all or I’d have thrown it in the bin by now.
The California Exotics Inked Vibe Slimline is, for me, a disappointing lesson in having my lowest expectations met. I’ll be honest here, I heard the name California Exotics and immediately thought of poor quality. And with a scratchable design (though not as easily scratched as it could be), a “waterproof” seal that lets in enough water to the battery compartment to soak several centimetres of thick card and a speed dial (at best guess) that stops working after less than half a dozen uses, the Inked Vibe Slimline seems pretty low quality to me.
Sure, it’s very pretty and sure it’s pretty powerful and maybe you just can’t resist its Man’s Ruin charm. So, if you do buy it from Desire and Pleasure: make sure it doesn’t rub up against anything pointy, keep it away from water, don’t feed it after midnight and hope against hope that it doesn’t have the same gremlins mine has. ♦